Rumors surrounding Jordan Howard made the rounds on Wednesday, after he apparently deleted Bears-related pictures off his Instagram account.
Given the trade rumors that popped up earlier in the offseason, when the team was believed to be discussing a swap of Howard for receiver Jarvis Landry, I don’t blame us for the collective online freakout. But nothing came of those rumors back in March – in fact, NFL Network insider Ian Rapoport tweeted the Bears had “zero desire” to trade Howard – and, from the sounds of it, nothing will come of these rumors either:
Yeah, nothing happening with Jordan Howard
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 5, 2018
There is nothing going on
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) April 5, 2018
So, yes, we saw the rumors. But we also didn’t want to jump to wild conclusions, even when it’s more fun to do so. We’ll continue to monitor the situation and share thoughts and information if something changes to merit such an update.
- Worth noting: Howard is not eligible for any kind of contract re-structuring or an extension until after the 2018 season, thus eliminating the idea of a contract dispute. But if Howard was to put up another 1,000-yard season, I imagine he’ll come to the Bears in search of a bigger payday – one that could be well-deserved.
- When it comes to trading Howard, I think we can all agree the Bears probably shouldn’t be looking to create a hole on offense for no reason. You could argue the team already did that in not picking up Josh Sitton’s third-year option, but at least the Bears can fall back on the draft and find a plug-and-play lineman. I’m not sure that kind of running back will be available to the Bears if they jettisoned Howard. Not unless they were able to position themselves to draft Penn State running back Saquon Barkley. Even then, the kind of mental gymnastics one would have to do to create the type of trade that could make that happen would be gold-medal worthy.
- All things equal, I’d like to see what Howard can do in an offense where the opponents can’t direct all their game-planning and attention on him (after all, we’ve seen what he can do in a bad situation, just imagine the alternative …). While Matt Nagy’s use of Kareem Hunt came under fire after the Kansas City Chiefs’ first-round loss to the Tennessee Titans, Nagy really leaned on the rookie running back when he was calling the plays. Hunt averaged 47 offensive snaps per game during the Chiefs’ late-season push. As a point of comparison, Howard was on the field for 47+ snaps just twice last season. In Games 13-15, Hunt averaged 26 carries and 121 rushing yards, while scoring a touchdown in each of those games. Howard had just one game in which he rushed for 26+ times. Howard might not be a perfect fit for the Bears’ offense, but he is a solid player whose role (and profile) could grow under the direction of a new coach.
- It all seems so simple. Feed #24 the ball and watch him rip off huge yards on the ground, setting up the play action deep ball down the sideline to Allen Robinson or a pass over the middle to Trey Burton that goes behind the linebackers and in front of the safeties.
- And for what it’s worth, Howard already talked to Hunt about Nagy back in February. If Nagy and Howard can make it through the offseason with Howard still on the team, I think both sides will like what they have in one another.
- All this running back talk has me thinking about Walter Payton, so I’m glad Jarrett shared this yesterday:
My dad could do it all.
He was the wildcat before the wildcat. In this game vs The 🧀, he didn’t just come in for a play at QB, he ran the #Bears off for a series. He threw a INT but also threw a TD to 26. Pound for pound, 🐐. @walterpayton #WalterWednesdays pic.twitter.com/jVZONPgxQ9
— Jarrett Payton (@paytonsun) April 4, 2018
- Let’s circle back to Howard, who did a ton of damage running to the left side of the formation in 2017 as he found holes behind tackle Charles Leno Jr. and guard Josh Sitton. Considering the rotation of bodies on the right side of the line, it’s probably no coincidence why Howard was unable to get much traction rushing right. In an ideal world, that changes with the return of a healthy Kyle Long at right guard. Larry Mayer of ChicagoBears.com writes Long is looking forward to being coached by Harry Hiestand. “I know that he is one of the most underrated hires in football this offseason,” Long said. “I know from speaking to many of his players from college and in the pros that they speak very highly of him and that they’re very excited to see me get to work with him.”
- Hiestand happens to be Long’s third different offensive line coach in as many years, and is the most accomplished of the group. This will be Hiestand’s second stint in Chicago, following a stop at Notre Dame where he developed a wave of stud offensive linemen into high profile draft studs who are either in the NFL or on the cusp of joining the league. The latest could be Quenton Nelson, whose name keeps popping up on the mock draft circuit as someone who will drop to the eighth pick where the Bears play. I can’t imagine Nelson falling past No. 8, but the San Francisco 49ers could be waiting with open arms if he does. ESPN’s Nick Wagoner writes Nelson could be a fit for the 49ers should the draft’s top offensive line prospect fall to them. San Francisco already has three former first-round picks fighting it out for two starting spots, but Nelson is on another level.
- And for what it’s worth, NFL reporter/Denver Broncos insider Troy Renck believes Nelson is “the safest pick” in the draft and his “educated guess” has the Bears taking the Notre Dame product with the eighth pick. So take that, Niners. *sticks out tongue in general direction of San Francisco*